I get bored easily. I’d rather do something that drives me insane than do something that’s constantly the same. It’s why I rarely stay in one place, in one home, in one job for very long – I start to go a little stir-crazy after a while.
I know there are people who are content to be still. I am not one of those people.
I figured out long ago that the only way to partially tame the constant desire to keep moving is to channel it into things which are never the same: stories.
As established many times already, I love telling stories. I also find people endlessly fascinating – even when I can predict their every move – I want to know what makes them who they are. I love new places, I love to find out the history, the stories.
Nothing can completely stop the craving for new places, new faces, new things to see, new stories to tell. Leave me in one place for too long, and no matter how much I might like being there, I will start kicking at the doors and trying to escape.
It makes sense to me that this is related to a life with bipolar – the restlessness and disconnectedness is in part connected to and triggered by that. But as bipolar is also just another part of me, so is this. A sign of me growing up and maturing a teensy bit has not been a lessening of these urges, but an amount of control over them – it’s been a while since I threw everything over the side and set off running. Doesn’t mean I don’t want to.
Keeping me doing the same work, keeping me with one set of people, these things are not easy. I work best when I can ignore the actual world and go into my own. Make me do anything involving interaction with the real world and real people and I will soon start looking for a way out. Experience has taught me, as it teaches most of us, that the real world is hard, and messy, and painful. The only things which I can rely on are the myriad story worlds I can escape into. So, I do.
However, in escaping to these other worlds, I learned to relate to this world and to the people in it by the stories I watch, play and tell. I guess you could say that I learned to live in this world by never entirely being a part of it – and that remains true. I rarely feel like I’m a true part of the real world, but stories taught me how to at least try to connect to it.
It’s impossible to underestimate the impact that books, films, tv shows, games and storytelling has had on me. Without them, I don’t know what I’d have done. Even at my lowest points, the right stories have been able to take me away from everything and bring me back just a little better, just a little more able to reconnect, just a little more able to cope with the things inside and my head and out of it.
Too often I see storytellers and creators doubting their impact. Too often I see “fans” ripping apart the people who worked so hard to create something for them.
It’s easy to criticise, and it’s easy to quit.
But if any of the people whose stories help me every day had quit, there’d be a piece of who I am…simply missing.
Now, I’m hardly anyone important, but who knows who’s out there that’s finding something in what I make that helps them learn to live?
Doubts are part of the creative package, I think. As are criticisms and wondering why you bother – especially in the days where every fan with a grudge, or troll with a power complex, can find you and rip you to shreds all over the internet. People like me, who found life in films and books and tv and games and stories, we’re often a little too quiet – but we’re here.
Stories are meant to entertain, of course, but in some ways that’s their lowest value. Stories can also help someone who doesn’t know how to live in the world, to find a way to do so. They can help someone who doesn’t know love and friendship, giving them hope that it exists somewhere. They can help someone learn to live with sorrow and tragedy. They can help someone learn who they are.
The storytellers – and that includes everyone who helps the story be brought to life, in whatever format – are important. Underrated. But very, very important.
Ask everyone who has roleplayed different genders to learn their own sexuality. Ask everyone who has used the strength of a hero to find their own. Ask everyone who has wept at the loss of a beloved character, and learned how to live with loss in life. Ask everyone who has taken a story to heart, and been affected by it. It’s no small thing to be a storyteller.
How about you – how have stories shaped your world?